Updated: Sep 29, 2020
Today is the last Sunday in September, and that means one thing in the sports world: playoff baseball is a mere stone throw away. Oh boy, what a long and grueling season this was, an entire whopping SIXTY games. I will just get right to the point and say it: this is not authentic playoff baseball. As I look at the final regular season standings, I can’t help but laugh that FOUR teams from the NL Central are in the playoffs, and I haven’t even gotten to the NL East standings with the Marlins yet. We all knew that this MLB season wasn’t going to be the same once it was revealed that only 60 games were going to be played. It was a hard pill to swallow, but at least we were going to get something of a baseball season, and that’s all that mattered. I remember reading about the back and forth between the players and the owners on coming to an agreement for a season and finding it hard to pick a side because it was summer and I just wanted to watch baseball already, so I objectively came to the conclusion that both sides were wrong, and nobody was going to win that battle. But now here we are, September 27th, and I suddenly begin to question whether there should have been any season at all. Here we are at the end of the regular season, and a sluggish start sees that defending champion Washington Nationals dead at the bottom of the NL East because they came out of the game with a sluggish start. Here we are at the end of the regular season, and it's Luke Voit, not Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres, carrying the Yankees into October, and did I mention he’s also a legitimate MVP candidate? Here we are in October, and the Miami Marlins (I don’t care if I already mentioned them, still in shock) are in the playoffs after being a season removed from losing 105 games and didn’t even undergo a rebuild comparable to the likes of the Astro’s from earlier this decade and making Derek Jeter look like a genius executive. There is no way I can possibly fathom that this was a legitimate baseball season, and that whoever walks away with having won the Fall Classic deserves to call themselves world champions.
Every baseball fan has found themselves sitting there at the end of May every year panicking, but reassuring themselves that there is still plenty of baseball to be played because their team got off to a slow start. Hell, as a Mets fan (disclaimer: I am a very weird breed of fan, being both a Mets and Phillies fan. Yes, I know they are division rivals, but some things just cannot be explained) I find myself in this position EVERY year going into June. Every year there is always that surprise team that got off to an incredibly hot start, but were never considered to be an actual legitimate playoff contender. Essentially, the common knee-jerk reactions from MLB fans. But now, thanks to a shortened season compliments of COVID-19, these knee-jerk reactions are actual seasons end reactions. We saw a slew of games postponed and cancelled at the beginning of the season, and I personally did not think the season was going to make it into September, but luckily the tides shifted, and there were only a handful of games postponed due to COVID-19 in September. Sure the St. Louis Cardinals made the playoffs having played 2 fewer games than any other team (except for the AL Central bottom dwelling Detroit Tigers) in what turned out to be a very close NL playoff race that came down to one of the final games of the season, but they managed to win 30 games in fewer tries than either of the Giants, Brewers or Phillies who were all competing for the final NL wild card berth, with the Brewers capturing it with 29 wins. I can’t complain about that too much, it’s not like the NFL where a team is at a competitive advantage by a shortened season (and a blog topic for another week).
Once again, it just does not feel right seeing multiple divisions with 3 teams in the playoffs, and yes even one with 4 compliments of the extended playoffs, which is compliments of MLB even admitting that this season is nothing but a lab rat itself by spontaneously implementing the extended playoffs and universal DH. I won’t say I wasn’t entertained by the new rule implementations as we got to see what every fan enjoys (of course assuming your team clinched a week or two ago) which was a wild card race coming down to the final day. However, when a season is completely defined by hotstreaks and slumps that make it or break it with teams, which would not normally dictate the entirety of a 162 game season, I would have rather seen a full season with a dull regular season conclusion rather than a 60 game season with a more entertaining conclusion. At the end of the day, baseball will recognize the awards from this season as the same as any other, but the fans will dictate the true validity of these achievements.
Most importantly, I’m just glad I’m no longer living in the Bronx so I don’t have to walk down the street without hearing Yankee fans lauding The Captain as the next great baseball executive every 3 minutes.